On Jan. 20, 2011, Jacob Gadd, American Legion deputy director for Health Care met with Deborah Amdur, chief consultant, Care Management and Social Work Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office, to discuss implementation of enhanced services for family caregivers.

Currently, VA provides general caregiver services such as education and assistance, counseling, support groups, respite care, home-based primary care and telehealth to support caregivers. On May 5, 2010, President Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, which expanded services for primary, family and general caregivers of veterans. Primary caregivers of veterans that served after Sept. 11, 2001, who were seriously injured in the line of duty would be provided a caregiver stipend, mental health services, respite care and health-care coverage. Family caregivers of veterans that served after Sept. 11, 2001, would be provided with instruction, training, travel, lodging, per diem for training, respite care and counseling. General caregivers for veterans of all eras would be provided in-person education, interactive website, telehealth training, counseling, respite care and information on all available services. Following passage of the law, VA developed a Caregiver Implementation Committee and the final plan is currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget.

While VA’s final implementation is under review, VA is rolling out many other caregiver program areas such as:

• Hiring caregiver support coordinators at all of the 153 VA medical centers. VA Central Office is providing funding for a caregiver support coordinator at each VA medical center nationwide; and

• On Feb. 1, VA will be opening a national Caregiver Support Line. The support line, which will be housed at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center, will answer general caregiver questions and provide referrals to local VA medical center caregiver support coordinators. Posters and flyers on the Caregiver Support Line are being distributed to VA medical centers.

For more information on the VA Caregiver Program, click here]. VA Central Office will be providing an update on caregivers during The American Legion’s Department Service Officer School in Washington on April 16. For additional questions, please e-mail Jacob Gadd.